I’ve been mixing powders and recommending my clients do the same for several nootropic stacks for as long as I’ve been in this business. One of my clients had the obvious idea to simply make the stack directly so we wouldn’t have to keep mixing the powders ourselves.
And I finally decided to do that.
Listen, I’m not trying to re-invent the wheel. There are some good products out there (which is why I simply decided to partner with Thorne and offer those ones directly, rather than re-make them). But the closest products to the nootropic stacks I’ve been making are packed with all sorts of fillers and junk. Consumers are paying for ingredients that literally get pissed away. And on a more serious issue, none of them have the right ratio of active ingredients to optimally do what they claim to do. I honestly have no clue how these popular nootropics and energy formulations decided on their doses. It clearly wasn’t based on the science.
I have two stacks that I created and regularly use / recommend: I call one the ‘Now’ stack and the other the ‘Later’ stack (details below). The Now stack boosts cognitive performance right now. The Later stack takes a while to see results (weeks to months), but produces significant long-term results.
I spent a long time researching various facilities that could do what I wanted and finally landed on one that was checking all the boxes. They’re GMP certified (good manufacturing practice) and FDA registered. I went and paid a bunch of money to get samples made for the ‘Now’ stack (I didn’t have the money to test out the ‘Later’ stack yet, but it’s in the pipeline when I can afford it).
Honestly, much better than I anticipated. I even tested it on my friends and had them do a bunch of cognitive tests (downside of being friends with me). Performance improvements were consistent with what I’ve been seeing in the past. The upshot is it saves time making it, it’s cheaper, it tastes WAY better, and because the whole thing is made in one facility, it’s a bit cleaner and safer (vs. you or me pulling from several different manufacturers and mixing it together in our kitchens).
I want to offer it to you as well. The issue is I need a fixed number of pre-orders before I can order a batch to be made. The minimum order requirement for my formula is 144 units. Every time I get 144 confirmed orders (a few of which will be mine), we can make a batch and ship it out. If this is something you’d like to try out, click below:
I guarantee you’ll love it and see results.
I’ll keep a pre-order counter of it going so you guys can know when the next batches will be ready to get shipped.
Alright, so here’s all the details on the Now stack for you nutrition nuts (once I can afford to get samples of the Later stack, test and approve of it, I’ll write about it):
What is it?
No proprietary blends here. I have nothing to hide. Here’s what’s inside:
- 100 mg caffeine
- 40 mg L-theanine
- Bomb flavor
- No BS
The best part about it is that it’s a powder. Supplement producers aren’t allowed to make caffeine powders anymore due to the risk of overdose. They bypass that issue by diluting the caffeine with a bunch of other junk, which is what you’ll classically see with pre-workout powders. With my formula, I’m giving you the good stuff without the fillers.
Powder formulations are way better than pills or pre-made drinks because they provide the best way to scale your dosage based off your unique needs. Pills and pre-made drinks are a pain to adjust accurately. Trust me, I’m still struggling with this.
Caffeine + L-theanine is one of the most well-researched nootropic stacks in existence. It’s honestly magical. I like to tell clients it’s kind of like 1 + 1 = 3. The two act synergistically to create something greater than the sum of its parts.
What are the benefits?
I’d encourage you to read my article on caffeine for a full discussion on it’s use as a nootropic, but here are the fun details:
- Improves reaction time
- Reduces fatigue (this also has the added benefit of allowing you to push yourself harder during workouts, one of the main reasons it’s used in pre-workout formulas)
- Improves spatial memory
- Improves perceptual memory
- Improves ability in tasks requiring limited working memory
- Improves ability in learning tasks that are presented passively
As far as L-theanine goes, I’d encourage you to listen to my podcast on it, but here are the highlights:
- Improves reaction time under stressful conditions (1)
- At higher doses, it can impair performance because it relaxes you too much (2,6)
When you combine the two, L-theanine stops the bad side effects of pure caffeine (like the jitters), and also leads to greater enhancements than caffeine alone:
- 33% improvement in reaction time over caffeine alone (2)
- ~36% improvement in speed and nearly 2x the accuracy in attention switching ability over caffeine alone (3)
- ~19% reduction in ability to be distracted over caffeine alone (3)
- 12% greater reduction in mental fatigue than caffeine alone (2)
- 2.5x greater sentence verification accuracy than caffeine alone (2)
- 82.4 msec improvement in word reaction time over caffeine alone (2)
- 3x more alert than caffeine alone (2)
Let me reiterate one point. Caffeine and L-theanine produce significant effects by themselves. These numbers represent the additional benefit you get by combining the two. You still get all the OTHER benefits of caffeine and L-theanine alone. 1 + 1 = 3 my friend.
How did you pick your formula?
I spent many sleepless nights reading the primary literature to try and find the optimal doses for mental performance. The formula I made was designed with this specific purpose in mind and will not work for other things, like as a pre-workout.
There is a surprising lack of information on the ideal ratio between the two compounds, but I will walk you through some of the more important research I found.
The military routinely uses caffeine for their soldiers (4). They recommend dosing in 100 mg increments (look familiar?) and suggest 100-400 mg have been used to consistently enhance performance. They advise against larger doses as it tends to cause impairments in performance and will start leading to health risks.
L-theanine comes from tea, with green tea having the highest value you can find anywhere in nature. Green tea has 6.56 mg/g L-theanine, and 16.28 mg/g caffeine (5). The ratio of caffeine to L-theanine in green tea comes out to 2.48.
If you drink 100 mg of caffeine from green tea, you would have consumed 40.3 mg of L-theanine (100 / 2.48 = 40.3 mg).
Consuming too much L-theanine has been shown to impair mental performance due to its relaxing effects. L-theanine is a completely viable anxiolytic medication at higher doses, but not what we’re going for with this formula.
Given that, I began to search for the ‘minimum effective dose’ of L-theanine. One study showed that 75 mg of caffeine reduced the amount of oxygenated blood going to the prefrontal cortex (the part of the brain where higher order executive functions occur) (7). Adding 50 mg of L-theanine completely abolished this effect (restoring oxygen to the brain, which is a good thing). Another study compared consumption of 75 mg of caffeine through coffee or tea (corresponding to 30 mg of L-theanine) on several cognitive metrics (8). Tea was able to better improve visual processing speed as well as overall objective and subjective alertness throughout the day.
To summarize the thought process:
- I wanted a single serving to have 100 mg of caffeine
- In nature, 100 mg of caffeine would have a corresponding 40 mg of L-theanine
- Research has shown cognitive and psychomotor improvements with L-theanine at doses of 30-50 mg
- Let’s listen to nature and use 40 mg
Now, I’ll be completely honest, some studies do show larger improvements with larger doses (depending on the metric and the individual). However, I wanted to be conservative with the single serving because when you go too high, it leads to impairments. Knowing you guys, you might do an extra scoop or two. If you go up to the maximum recommended (400 mg of caffeine), that would have a corresponding L-theanine content of 160 mg. Impairments are usually not evident until 250 mg +, meaning we’re still safe with this dose!
Does it work?
Yes. See above science. And if you want some anecdote – myself, my friends, and many of my clients can all attest to this ratio being quite powerful.
How soon does it work?
Peak blood levels can occur as soon as 15 minutes after ingestion. However, the average time is about 30-45 minutes for 99% to be absorbed (9).
How long does it last?
The half-life of caffeine is between 2.5 and 4.5 hours (10). This means that after 3-4 hours, half of the stuff is out of your system. If you don’t want to dose again, this is about when you would start seeing the performance enhancements start to decrease.
Is it safe?
But as with any caffeine product (with anything really…), you must be careful not to exceed the dosing guidelines. Do not exceed 600 mg in a single serving and do not dose any more frequently than once every 3-4 hours.
Is there sugar?
Nope. But who cares? The ‘sugar crash’ is one of the biggest myths in the nutrition world.
But why does it taste so good?
I not only wanted this product to be the best supplement to acutely enhance brain performance, but I also wanted it to taste good. Don’t judge me, I work in nutrition, and I love tasty things.
The first sweetener I wanted to use was sucralose. It is approximately 600 times as sweet as standard sugar. Because of the sweetness, you don’t need to use very much. Of the miniscule amount you do use, 85% of it is excreted unchanged in the feces (11). The remainder is excreted in the urine with zero bio-accumulation.
Most of the data showing significant interaction with the body comes from rodents. The lowest dose of sucralose I could find that caused a potentially negative change was with rodents consuming the equivalent of 88 packets of Splenda every day (12). To add to the visual, this is the equivalent of consuming 38x 12 oz. cans of a diet soda with the highest sucralose content I could find (Diet Mountain Dew).
The single study with a significant interaction in humans showed that pairing sucralose with glucose enhanced GLP-1 release (13). GLP-1 is a peptide hormone that increases satiety, improves blood glucose control, and may lead to weight loss. This data is consistent with studies showing a lower energy intake and lower corresponding BMI in children consuming sucralose instead of sugar (14).
The take home? Sucralose is safe in humans, even at doses several orders of magnitude above the Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI). And if you pair it with sugar (not saying sugar is good for you or that you should go out of your way to do this), you’ll see an increase in the awesome GLP-1 hormone. Not too shabby.
The second sweetener I wanted to use was acesulfame potassium. Why you ask? Purely for taste.
Blending acesulfame potassium with sucralose produces an optimal flavor profile that is more ‘sugar-like’. To top it off, you can use less total sweetener with the combo than by trying to use exclusively one or the other.
As far as safety is concerned, the story with acesulfame potassium is more of the same:
- No harmful effects at levels within the ADI
- The lowest dose found that was potentially harmful in rodents was over twice the ADI (equivalent of consuming 64x 12 oz. cans of a diet soda with the highest acesulfame potassium content I could find – Barq’s Diet Root Beer) (15)
- Lower BMI in children consuming a sucralose + acesulfame potassium blend in comparison with sugar (16)
Oh. And did I mention that both of these sweeteners are on the very short list (only 9 in the US and 11 in EU) that passed safety approvals (12)? It’s no surprise considering it’s physically impossible to even get close to a dose that might be harmful under normal eating conditions (or even someone going out of their way to consume sweeteners…).
- Improves mental performance? Check.
- Based on the science? Check.
- Not filled with junk? Check.
- Tastes great? Check check.
If you’re interested in this, click the button below to complete the pre-order form. Once we have enough orders in the queue (144 units is the minimum number I need to order a batch), I’ll have the lab pros start whipping it up and we’ll get it to you ASAP. Ideally, we can get 2x this amount so I can offer a flavor variety (I tested a bunch and have two I really like).
I hope you like making the enemy rage quit.
Gamer Upgrade Supplements
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- Higashiyama A., Htay H.H., Ozeki M., Juneja L.R., Kapoor M.P. Effects of l-theanine on attention and reaction time response. J. Funct. Foods. 2011;3:171–181. doi: 10.1016/j.jff.2011.03.009.
- Haskell, C. F., Kennedy, D. O., Milne, A. L., Wesnes, K. A., & Scholey, A. B. (2008). The effects of l-theanine, caffeine and their combination on cognition and mood. Biological Psychology, 77(2), 113–122. doi:10.1016/j.biopsycho.2007.09.008
- Owen, G. N., Parnell, H., De Bruin, E. A., & Rycroft, J. A. (2008). The combined effects of L-theanine and caffeine on cognitive performance and mood. Nutritional Neuroscience, 11(4), 193–198. doi:10.1179/147683008×301513
- Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Military Nutrition Research. Caffeine for the Sustainment of Mental Task Performance: Formulations for Military Operations. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2001. Executive Summary. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK223801/
- Boros, K., Jedlinszki, N., & Csupor, D. (2016). Theanine and Caffeine Content of Infusions Prepared from Commercial Tea Samples. Pharmacognosy magazine, 12(45), 75–79. https://doi.org/10.4103/0973-1296.176061
- Gomez-Ramirez, M., Higgins, B. A., Rycroft, J. A., Owen, G. N., Mahoney, J., Shpaner, M., & Foxe, J. J. (2007). The Deployment of Intersensory Selective Attention. Clinical Neuropharmacology, 30(1), 25–38. doi:10.1097/01.wnf.0000240940.13876.17
- Dodd, F. L., Kennedy, D. O., Riby, L. M., & Haskell-Ramsay, C. F. (2015). A double-blind, placebo-controlled study evaluating the effects of caffeine and L-theanine both alone and in combination on cerebral blood flow, cognition and mood. Psychopharmacology, 232(14), 2563–2576. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00213-015-3895-0
- Hindmarch, I., Rigney, U., Stanley, N., Quinlan, P., Rycroft, J., & Lane, J. (2000). A naturalistic investigation of the effects of day-long consumption of tea, coffee and water on alertness, sleep onset and sleep quality. Psychopharmacology, 149(3), 203–216. doi:10.1007/s002130000383
- Arnaud MJ. 1987. The pharmacology of caffeine. Prog Drug Res 31:273–313.
- Arnaud MJ. 1988. The metabolism of coffee constituents. In: Coffee. Volume 3:Physiology, pp.33–55.
- Spencer, M., Gupta, A., Dam, L. V., Shannon, C., Menees, S., & Chey, W. D. (2016). Artificial Sweeteners: A Systematic Review and Primer for Gastroenterologists. Journal of neurogastroenterology and motility, 22(2), 168–180. https://doi.org/10.5056/jnm15206
- Ruiz-Ojeda, F. J., Plaza-Díaz, J., Sáez-Lara, M. J., & Gil, A. (2019). Effects of Sweeteners on the Gut Microbiota: A Review of Experimental Studies and Clinical Trials. Advances in nutrition (Bethesda, Md.), 10(suppl_1), S31–S48. https://doi.org/10.1093/advances/nmy037
- Steinert RE, Frey F, Töpfer A, Drewe J, Beglinger C. Effects of carbohydrate sugars and artificial sweeteners on appetite and the secretion of gastrointestinal satiety peptides. Br J Nutr. 2011 May;105(9):1320-8. doi: 10.1017/S000711451000512X. Epub 2011 Jan 24. PMID: 21255472.
- Taljaard C, Covic NM, van Graan AE, Kruger HS, Smuts CM, Baumgartner J, Kvalsvig JD, Wright HH, van Stuijvenberg ME, Jerling JC. Effects of a multi-micronutrient-fortified beverage, with and without sugar, on growth and cognition in South African schoolchildren: a randomised, double-blind, controlled intervention. Br J Nutr. 2013 Dec;110(12):2271-84. doi: 10.1017/S000711451300189X. Epub 2013 Jul 4. PMID: 23823584.
- Bian X, Chi L, Gao B, Tu P, Ru H, Lu K. The artificial sweetener acesulfame potassium affects the gut microbiome and body weight gain in CD-1 mice. PLoS One. 2017 Jun 8;12(6):e0178426. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0178426. PMID: 28594855; PMCID: PMC5464538.
- de Ruyter JC, Olthof MR, Kuijper LD, Katan MB. Effect of sugar-sweetened beverages on body weight in children: design and baseline characteristics of the Double-blind, Randomized INtervention study in Kids. Contemp Clin Trials. 2012 Jan;33(1):247-57. doi: 10.1016/j.cct.2011.10.007. Epub 2011 Oct 25. PMID: 22056980.